5 Reasons Google Plus May Be the Social Network of the Future

February 20, 2012

Photo credit: birgerking on flickr.

Add me to your Google+ Circles: http://gplus.to/dshiao

Introduction

No, Google+ will not be displacing Facebook any time soon. However, the Circles component of Google+ is the “killer app” that, in my mind at least, is a game changer.

Previously, I provided tips on how to organize your Google+ Circles. Organizing my Circles made Google+ so much more effective for me. That’s led me to wonder whether Circles could propel Google+ into a leadership position among the major social networks. Let me list five reasons.

1) Topically Focused Social Surfing.

Facebook and Twitter have conditioned us to peruse streams. Whether it’s our Twitter stream or our Facebook Newsfeed, we’re used to browsing through a set of tweets and updates that are not connected by topic or theme. Google+ Circles, if organized well (by you), changes things.

I’ve created Circles around selected topics, which means that when I select my “Event Profs” Circle, I know up front that most of the posts will be about event and meeting planning. This allows me to surf my social streams topically – and I find that to be very powerful.

On Twitter, I could follow the #eventprofs hash tag – or, I could create a Twitter List comprised of EventProfs folks. But for me, the Circle approach is the best solution. Not only is my Circle private (unlike a Twitter List), but I can also publish to selected Circles, rather than to all of my followers. I find this “bi-directional management” (consumption plus publishing) quite elegant.

2) Time-Segmented Social Surfing.

Let’s say you have 15 minutes to surf your social streams. That’s not enough time to get caught up with everything. If you’ve organized your Circles well, you can now surf 1-2 Circles, saving the rest for later in the day (or tomorrow).

You don’t quite have the same flexibility on Twitter and Facebook, since they’re organized around a more holistic stream. If I go half a day without checking Twitter, I don’t go back to try to consume the tweets I missed. Instead, I peruse through recent tweets to see what’s going on – and as a result, I’ve permanently missed the earlier tweets.

Facebook addresses this by retaining active posts (those that received a lot of Likes and Comments) in my Newsfeed, as a way of saying “you ought to check this out.” With Google+, I can simply check one Circle for those 15 minutes, then check my other Circles later in the day. And the result is that I’ve missed a lot less.

3) Continual Segmenting.

Louis Gray posted a neat tip about searching within your Circles. Let’s say I’m learning about HTML5. I could search for mentions of “HTML5” within my Circles. The search results will show users in my Circles that have mentioned HTML5. I can then create a new Circle (e.g. called “HTML5”) and add them to my new Circle. In this way, I can continually refine and further curate my Circles, making the service more and more effective (to me).

4) Search, plus Your World.

It’s the elephant in the room for your corporate or personal brand. With Search, plus Your World, Google is incorporating content from Google+, from users whom you’ve added to your Circles. While some have criticized Google for not including results from other social networks, the impact is clear: being present and active on Google+ is now part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. And that alone, will cause brands (including personal brands) to sign on.

5) One Size Could Fit All.

With Circles, Google+ may be the only social network that allows you to combine business and personal use simultaneously. While many prefer to segment their social media use across distinct services (e.g. Facebook for friends/family and LinkedIn for work), Google+ gives you the ability to manage this segmentation in a single application.

You can create Circles for your business interests, your hobbies, your friends and your family. From there, you can segment your social surfing (as discussed above) and segment your (outbound) sharing.

Conclusion

Having said all that, I understand that to become the “social network of the future,” Google+ needs to get Mom and Dad using the service (instead of Facebook). And frankly, many of the points I’ve made (above) don’t apply to Mom and Dad.

So time will tell how well Google+ is able to capture the Mom and Dad audience. In the meantime, I’m happy to continue with my topic and time-segmented social surfing.

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5 Tips for Organizing Your Google+ Circles

February 6, 2012

My Google+ Profile: http://gplus.to/dshiao

Introduction

Want to get the most of Google+? It’s all about the Circles. I’ve been using Google+ for a number of months; however, it wasn’t until recently that I made the investment in time to organize my Circles properly. Having done that, however, I can state with confidence that it was more than worth the time. Here are five tips on organizing your own Circles.

1) Prioritize to Organize.

It’s best to “get organized” when you first start using Google+ (e.g. when you add your first batches of users to your Circles). Since I’m used to the “full stream” on Twitter (where I’ve been similarly lax on organizing), I figured that I’d simply add all new Google+ users into a single Circle. For a while, this seemed fine. But the reality is, there are some users I’d like to hear from more than others (just like on Twitter).

And Circle management helps you do just that. First, define the categories or topics you’d like to organize around. I went with the following:

Event Profs
Social Media
Digital Book Club
VCs & Execs
12Most
VWs & Gamification
Brands
Friends
Misc
Sports

Since I organized late in the game, I worked backwards to create some Circles. If you’re starting out early, you’ll have less work to do on organizing people, but you may find the need to create new Circles as you go (which is completely fine).

2) Order Your Circles.

Did you know that you can define the order that your Circles are listed? Simply visit your Circles page (you can click on the “Circles” icon in your Google+ navigation), left-click on a given Circle, then drag it in front of (or behind) another Circle. Return to your Google+ home page and you’ll notice that the list of Circles has been re-ordered.

3) Tune Your Stream.

The default view in your Google+ home page is “Stream,” which is a combination of all your Circles. You can “tune” which Circles appear most/least in the “Stream.” Simply click on a Circle, then adjust the “tuner settings” left (least) or right (most). What I like to do, however, is glance briefly at “Stream,” then navigate directly to individual Circles.

4) Find Shared Circles.

In my list of Circles (above), you’ll notice one called “12Most.” This Circle was created by +Peggy Fitzpatrick of 12Most.com. Peggy created a Circle of all 12Most authors and contributors, then shared it with the Circle members. I added the shared Circle and now I’m able to conveniently view a Google+ stream from authors at 12Most. Be on the lookout for users who share their Circles.

5) Share Content Wisely.

Once you’ve organized your Circles, sharing content becomes more efficient. I may share event planning links with my Event Profs Circle, while sharing the latest Mashable article with my Social Media Circle.

Similarly, a picture of my dessert may be best shared with “Friends” and not “Social Media.” Finally, note that users in your Circle will only see content you share (with that Circle) if those same users have added you to their Circles.

Conclusion

Putting in the time and effort to organize your Google+ Circles is well worth it. Start organizing up front and you’ll have less to do over the long term. Use the Comments section below to let us know your tips for organizing Circles.

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I Finally Joined Google Plus, So Let’s Circle Each Other

November 18, 2011

Introduction

I like to show up fashionably late to most parties. While most of you set up your Google Plus profiles several months ago, I’m just getting around to that now.

Google Plus and Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts sing a song called “Make New Friends.” The song includes the following lyrics:

A circle is round, it has no end
That’s how long I want to be your friend.
Here is my hand, and here is the other
Let’s put them together and we have each other.

Let’s Circle Each Other

Let’s put our circles together. You can view my profile here:

http://gplus.to/dshiao

Add me to your Circle and I’ll add you back!

 


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